Saturday, June 25, 2011

The Crusts of Life

Anyway for my sanity I am writing here. I am sixty-five years old. Past the Beatles song. By some accounts that is young. But when a man wakes on his fortieth birthday he may safely say he has no youth ahead of him. - from "The Secret Scripture", Sebastian Barry

So it seems now. Who was I then? A stranger, but a stranger who hides in me still, in my bones and in my blood. ... The girl I was. - from "The Secret Scripture", Sebastian Barry

The Girl I Was
I hate endings. And it is for that reason I don't eat the crusts of things. This annoys the hell out of people, especially people who sit opposite me in restaurants, or even worse, who cook for me.

I won't eat the crusts of anything - even things that other people think do not have crusts. Like pizzas. Like veal scallopini. Or french fries. In fact the only food I can think of that doesn't have a crust, is ice-cream.

I used to think the way men reacted to my leaving the crusts was an indicator of their tolerance to others. My first husband, for example, used to put less and less on my plate, hoping that one day I would eventually eat all of it. I didn't. No matter how small the serving I always left something and eventually he gave up. He was very negative. Very intolerant. Very first-husband.

Later I took as a lover, a Dutchman. The opposite of first-husband he gradually served me more each day, hoping that although I would leave something, at least I'd get my nourishment. Very tolerant. Very Amsterdam. Very lover.

My second husband has a German background and like the aforementioned men, he also cooks for me. And as with the other two, I always leave a bit. Second Husband serves the same amount every time. And of course I always leave a bit. And every time he has the same comment. "Is there something wrong with it?" Very consistent. Very German. Very second-husband!

With the Dutchman
But where was I? Yes I was talking about the ends of things and how I hate them. The last full day of a vacation is unenjoyable. It doesn't matter where it is - in Paris, Bali, London, it's the pits. It's not even worth having. I'd sooner leave one day earlier. But that would only mean the bad last day would come sooner. You just can't win!

The last day before going on vacation. I just hate that day too. I wake up thinking what's wrong with today? And then I realise it is the end of the time before my vacation. Suddenly I will love being where I am. Be it New York or Melbourne. Why am I leaving? I love this place I think as I reluctantly, joylessly throw a few things into a suitcase, looking forward not to the vacation but to my return home.

I hated my last day of high school. I lingered for years at university, never quite knowing when I'd finished there, and thus not only postponing, but also hiding the awful last day from my awareness.

The last day of being a kid. I even remember it. I was on my way home from school, walking along Glenhuntly Road in the Melbourne suburb of Elsternwick when I saw a rubbish-bin lid on the sidewalk. I jumped over it, a real spring in my step. I won't be doing that again, I thought sadly. Good-bye my last day of childhood. I was growing up.

And now I'm thinking it is the end of an era. A friend emailed me. She was going home from her home in the UK to the home of her childhood, in Australia. A house in Elsternwick in fact. Her mother still lives in the same house there, the house she was in when I first met my friend. My friend is going home to unpack that house of whatever it has accumulated for over sixty years, as her mother is now elderly an moving into a nursing home.

"An end of an era," she wrote.

Yes, I hate endings. Especially end-of-era ones. I can't just push them around on my plate like they are pizza crusts. I can't hide them from the sight of husbands or lovers, shoving them surrepticiously under the mashed potatoes.

My second husband once lost all the desktop icons on his PC. "Where did they go?" he asked, quite seriously. I laughed and laughed.

But when it is about me, it ain't so funny! My youth. Where did it go?

I am so consciously aware of this lost youth that it worries me, annoys me rather. I've gotten into the habit of waking up in the mornings with the thought, "Oh no! Not YOU again!" Of course if I woke up as someone else I'd probably scream in terror ...

Instead I just laugh at myself, get up and start the day.

Dreading of course, the end.


Sakira Kollin said...

Nice to read about the Crusts of Life. Would you mind to keep it up?

Anonymous said...

Could understand fleeting childhood and gOing home for last time .in childhood home but pizza crusts??Oh how I wish I? Did not have tO coNtend with that loose fr tooth and ability to bite right into one!

Anonymous said...


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